SiddieRun Gaiden: Yu-Shan Essence Pop
Chaotic Trickster of Demons
In the cold, far reaches of the north on the Snow Blossom Cascades lived the small Ice Weasel Tribe. While proud, hardy, and resourceful as all Icewalkers are, the Ice Weasel Tribe was never really taken seriously. The larger tribes like the Mammoth Tribe, Elk Tribe, Snow Lion Tribe, and even the White Rabbit Tribe all thought that the Ice Weasel people were odd, even among the hundreds of other tribes. And they were right.
Outsiders whispered that the Ice Weasel peoples’ shamans were their leaders, that they had no separate chiefs, and that they allowed women to lead men in battle. It was said that the Ice Weasel people allowed Wyld-taint to exist among their kind and that their bands’ carried trinkets from the weak and heretical southerners. And all of this was true. Like their totem animal spirit, the people of the Ice Weasel tribe were inquisitive, energetic, and tricky. They followed the traditions of the Ice Walkers but tradition for the Ice Weasel people was an idea and not a set of laws.
Years ago, a daughter with hair the color of the summer sun was born to the Shaman-Chieftainess of the Ice Weasel people. The girl’s hair was the same as that of the ancient progenitor of the tribe, a shaman who mated with the Ice Weasel Avatar, and this was taken to be a sign that the child had been chosen for greatness. However, the child of a shaman usually could not become a shaman, for the Ice Weasel Avatar exercised a sort of fickle fairness that forbade such nepotism. Despite many shamans’ best efforts, the fate of the child could not be determined by custom or divination.
The Ice Weasel Tribe wandered the wide central plains of the north, following the range of their totem animal. Thus, the fair haired child had ample opportunity to explore. Along with her friends, she would often sneak into small villages and even the great cities of the North. Trading furs, meats, information, and favors, the child gained great skill in dealing with outsiders. This served her well when her mother chose to retire. The tribe unanimously decided to ask the Ice Weasel Avatar to allow the girl, a non-shaman, to lead their tribe. In a vision, the Avatar voiced his support without reservation and the girl, now a young woman, became the tribe’s greatest chieftainess at the age of eighteen. Blessed under the young woman guidance and benefiting from her skill with the outside world, the tribe prospered. Indeed, the Ice Weasel people were the only Icewalkers to drink fine wine with their freshly killed meals.
When she was twenty-five, a scout sent by Yurgen Kaneko came to her tribe. Kaneko, known more commonly as The Bull of the North, was the great conqueror of the icy plains who united most of the Icewalker Tribes and defeated both Fae invaders and the Tepet legions of the Scarlet Empire. He now sent a representative to recruit the Ice Weasel tribe. The scout spoke of how the Bull believed the tribe’s ingenuity would benefit his horde and how they would bring glory upon themselves by taking part in his campaign. The young woman knew better. She feared that her tribe would become nameless among the horde and loose its freedom. The joyous way of life her people followed would be shattered by war. She made up her mind, knowing it went against the fate of her people to join The Bull, and politely declined the scouts offer. The scout politely called her a fool, less than politely called her mother something unpleasant, and proceed to leave. As she exalted with the sign of Venus appearing brightly from her brow, the wise chieftainess politely stabbed the man in the back and twisted the blade so as to ensure a proper end to negotiations. It was the first time she had taken a man’s life and, she thought to herself, it didn’t feel half bad.
For the next two month, the Ice Weasel people prepared for war. Spies sent ahead by the Bull came and saw small bands practicing with bows and spears. No match for one of the Bull’s massive legions or even a single war party. What they didn’t take note of were the miles of traps the tribe had laid. Spiked pit falls hidden under the snow, arrows connected to trip wires, bear traps laid around fruiting bushes, and even explosives purchased from the south. When the war party sent by the Bull arrived, they were surprised to see that the Ice Weasel people were celebrating. On an open plain, the tribe feasted on mammoth, took their fill of wine, and sang lewd songs to the Ice Weasel Avatar who had joined them in their celebration. Most outrageously, the tribe had set a large bull, obviously imported from outside the frozen north, onto a giant spit and the smell of its succulent meat filled the air for miles.
Enraged at the tribe’s obstinacy and assured of their weakness, the commander of the war party ordered a direct charge on the village. As his men fell into the ice and were blown into the sky, the bewildered commander had to call for his men to pull back. As they did so, the Ice Weasel avatar dove into the snow, reappeared behind the commander’s lines, and called forth a snowstorm to push the invaders further into the traps. By night fall, the few weak and nearly dead soldiers who made it to the tribe’s camp were dispatched by children and the drunk.
Safe from the Bull’s attack, the people celebrated with a grand potlatch. They only ended the revelry days later when the food ran out. Yet, the young chieftainess knew the Bull would send more troops and possibly even appear himself. An Icewalker who had defeated the great Scarlet Empire wouldn’t take kindly to being humbled by the Ice Weasel Tribe, even if it was only a small war party. After consulting with the Ice Weasel Avatar, not as a shaman but as an Exalt, the young chieftainess started to lead her people on a trek far into the western reaches of the North, to the land of the farthest Icewalkers: the Stone Crab Tribe. There, her people would be out of the eastward-focused Bull’s reach. Along their trek, a great retinue of ice weasels followed. The animals mated, widening the range of the ice weasels and expanding the influence of their Avatar. To thank the tribe and the chieftainess for undertaking the journey and for providing protection as they traveled, the animals caught and offered game to the people and their journey was easy. More a parade than a long march.
After months of rolling through the tundra, passing many strange natural and unnatural sights, the tribe arrived at the eastern shore with the hardiest of the ice weasels. The Stone Crab Tribe was expecting them and came with greetings: the fresh catch of the day and the warmth of their amicable company. Among the Stone Crab people was a female shaman who had predicted the appearance of the Ice Weasel people to the hour. Privately, she approached the young chieftain and revealed herself to be an Exalt as well. Obviously, the two had much to discuss.
Carried by the Ice Weasel Avatar in his giant form, the two Exalts sojourned to the nearby ruins of Tchoto-killi, a fallen city of The First Age. There, among the bombarded and decaying remains of First Age glory, the elder Exalt told the young chieftainess the true history of the world, from the fall of the Primordials to the disappearance of the Scarlet Empress. Finally, after coming to a pristine gate of starmetal and adamant, the elder offered the chieftainess the opportunity to take her place as an agent of fate. She accepted, with the condition that she be allowed to continue monitoring her tribe and ensuring its safety, and without so much as a goodbye to anyone other than the Ice Weasel Avatar, the young woman walked through the gate to her new life in Yu-Shan. Her name was quickly forgotten among her people, a consequence of Sidereals’ Arcane Fate, but the legend of the tricky young chieftain and her celebration that defeated an army grew and spread until it became a permanent part of Icewalker lore… much to the Bull of the North’s chagrin.